Martinez hails N'Zogbia for helping police after striker's arrest for driving test 'fraud'

Forward suspected of cheating on theory section will emerge from affair a better man, says Wigan manager
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The Independent Online

The Wigan Athletic manager, Roberto Martinez, has praised Charles N'Zogbia for his mature response after his arrest on Wednesday for a "naive mistake". N'Zogbia was arrested at Sale driving test centre on suspicion of fraud by false representation before being released on bail until 3 June pending further enquiries.

It is understood officials called police after suspecting he had got someone else to take the theory section of his test ahead of the practical examination he was due to take the same day.

N'Zogbia, hero of Sunday's 3-2 victory over Arsenal with his stoppage-time winning goal, has since cooperated fully with the police and club, which is likely to count in his favour.

Although far from condoning N'Zogbia's actions, Martinez feels the 23-year-old will learn from the experience and be stronger for it.

"The way I see the whole situation is that Charles has been badly advised, and he's made a naive mistake," said Martinez. "But straight away he wanted to help with the police investigation. He has not caused any trouble or problem. He knows he has done wrong.

"Any human being can make a mistake. It happens in football, and it is how you react to them, and I feel he has handled this in a very mature way.

"It doesn't take away from what he has done, and obviously I'm not happy with what he's done. But I'm proud of his reaction, and if anything I think we're going to have a more mature player on our hands. I feel Charles is going to learn a lot, it's going to make him a stronger human being and a better footballer. From the football club point of view that can only be good news."

Given the reaction from N'Zogbia, who cost the Latics £6m 14 months ago when he joined from Newcastle, Martinez has promised the Frenchman the club's full support.

"We need to remember he is still a very young man, but he knows he is also a public figure," added Martinez. "So we'll support him in everything where we feel we can help him. It's important he now sets the right example.

"We'll help him to ensure he focuses and is available to do what he does best, which is playing football, such as the way he did on Sunday. We've three games to go and he needs to make sure he finishes on a real high. At the same time we'll collaborate with the police and Charles to make sure we get out of this situation in a positive way."

Martinez fears the Espanyol striker Jose Callejon will be beyond the club's financial reach this summer. Martinez has been tracking him for some time, and the 23-year-old recently affirmed his desire to move to the Premier League.

But Martinez reckons a fee rumoured to be around £4.5m may price him out of the market. Despite a record of just four goals in 55 matches, Martinez said: "He is someone I've admired for a long time, not just at Espanyol, but also previously when he was with Real Madrid B. Every time he plays well for Espanyol I know the next morning he is again going to be linked with us.

"But he is a big asset for Espanyol as he can play in a number of positions, and I don't think they will want to lose that sort of player. Although the Spanish market is not the most expensive in Europe at the moment, he will probably be too expensive for us."

Another target is Hamilton's 22-year-old midfielder James McArthur, who is also known to be attracting the interest of Rangers.

Martinez raided Hamilton last summer for 19-year-old James McCarthy, who has been one of the club's success stories this season, to such an extent that he has already been linked with a move away to a bigger club.

As for McArthur, Martinez said: "He is another player we've been following for a long time. We're not a club that can rely on our chequebook to bring players in. We need to be creative.

"We also need to sign the right characters, and to do that you need to follow them for a long, long period, and James has been one of the top performers in the Scottish League this season."

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